@CloudExpo Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, David Paquette

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Java IoT, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, IoT User Interface, Agile Computing

@CloudExpo: Article

Avoiding the Hidden Costs That Derail Cloud Projects

The Challenge: Making Your Private Cloud Fit Your IT Infrastructure Puzzle

Most companies that have embarked on a private cloud journey find themselves in one of two unfortunate positions: they've already spent much more than they had planned or they're struggling with how to make sure costs don't get out of hand. These are typically companies with sophisticated IT organizations - organizations that ask tough questions and put detailed plans in place. For example, an international bank spent millions of dollars and six months of professional services time before scrapping their existing cloud project and restarting it with a completely new approach and toolset.

The Challenge: Making Your Private Cloud Fit Your IT Infrastructure Puzzle
Cloud automation vendors make deploying a private cloud sound easy. If you take their basic out-of-the-box capability, the good ones will probably take you anywhere from a few hours to a few days to get a simple self-service private cloud working. While that may make a nice proof-of-concept demo, will that actually meet the needs of how you manage your infrastructure or will you need to replace prior technology and best practice investments to make your cloud work?

Cloud management is not a standalone entity. For your cloud to be successful, it needs to integrate and work with your existing management infrastructure and best practices. As you evaluate cloud management platforms, you need to assess how each tool works with your current and future management ecosystem. Your cloud management choice will not only impact prior investments, it can also limit your future choices. In order to avoid some of the hidden private cloud costs, evaluate how cloud management options will fit with your existing IT ecosystem.

  • Deployment Technologies
    Does your cloud management plaform work with the current technologies used to deploy your infrastructure? This includes both the private resources in your data centers and public cloud resources. Does it support the operating system, server virtualization tools, and desktop technologies being used today as well as the ones you may want to use in the future?
  • Management Infrastructure
    Typically, the delivery of a private cloud service requires a work order ticket to be generated, an internal database accessed, and that specific tools be used to deploy software, monitor the environment and take corrective action. How easily does your cloud management platform work with your current management tools and processess? Will you need to replace these tools or pay for extensive customization to make your cloud management solution work?
  • Best Practices
    As part of continuous process improvement, companies should always be looking to streamline and improve their processess. Deploying a private cloud is a large paradigm shift and some process changes will likely be needed to facilitate end-to-end automation. However, your cloud management software should not force changes on you that don't make sense within the guidelines established for your company. Remember that substantial changes required by the vendor are likely to be costly in terms of time and effort, if not also technology.
  • Custom Self-Service Portal
    All cloud management products provide some level of self-service capabilities. An out-of-the-box self-service portal simplifies initial deployment. However, what if your company already has a self-service portal or existing work order ticketing system? The last thing you will need is yet another portal. How easily can your existing portal be integrated with your cloud management services and will you need to spend time and money reproducing all the security in the custom portal?

Cloud Management Extensibility
Extensibility is also a critical factor in private cloud costs. Wikipedia defines extensibility as: "In systems architecture, extensibility means the system is designed to include hooks and mechanisms for expanding and enhancing the capabilities without having to make major changes to the system infrastructure." Often this means making modifications at runtime without requiring changes to the original source code.

Most cloud automation products will only automate a portion of your provisioning, ongoing management, or decommissioning processes. Therefore, an extensible architecture, combined with multi-vendor support, are fundamental components of cloud management platforms as they're needed to facilitate integration with the current IT infrastructure and management ecosystem.

With regard to extensibility, cloud management software products typically fall into one of the following two categories:

  • Prescriptive Tools
    Many cloud management solutions were built for a specific problem, like lab management, and have prescribed processes, limited interoperability, and lack the extensibility features needed to adapt to more broad-scale deployment requirements.

Any tool that requires drastic changes to existing management tools, infrastructure components, or operational processes will result in additional capital costs required to replace existing technology as well as additional investment in people who can use this new technology and processes.

The other challenge is that your company will likely be unable to achieve the savings you have envisioned because the automation solution will not meet the needs of the various business units. These business groups will either stay with their current manual process, reducing the percentage of your infrastructure that can be moved to an on-demand cloud, or they will implement a different cloud solution that does not provide your company with the operational scalability and savings you could have had with a single integrated solution.

  • Automation Toolkits
    Some vendors provide very basic cloud management capabilities and augment their cloud management offering by providing separate run book toolkits or "orchestration" products. This option allows companies to completely customize their cloud solution. However, there are multiple hidden costs associated with this implementation choice:

Initial services costs outweigh the software costs
These solutions tend to require lengthy and expensive custom services projects where services typically cost three times as much as the software.

Customized solutions are not easily extended to other business
In addition to the higher upfront costs, cloud automation solutions built with an automation toolkit tend to be built specifically for the needs of a single business. When companies try and expand the use of the highly customized solutions, they either have further customization costs or suffer from limited adoption across the enterprise.

Customized solutions make upgrades to newer release difficult
Many customizations strand the implementation at a specific release, making upgrades to newer versions difficult and costly.

Mitigating Private Cloud's Hidden Costs
Hopefully you now have a better understanding of some of the hidden cloud deployment costs and how your automation choice can not only affect costs but also impact your actual savings. It's important that you can adapt and expand automation with tools targeted at both IT operations as well as developers. In order to enable the quickest time-to-cloud value, companies should consider the following capabilities when evaluating cloud management platform software:

  • Comprehensive out-of-the-box functionality
    First and foremost, you will want a cloud management solution with a comprehensive set of out-of-the-box cloud management features. Many vendors only focus on initial provisioning capabilities. Make sure your cloud management platform automates the complete life cycle including ongoing management, resource reclamation, and decommissioning including archiving. The more features available out-of-the-box, the less need for costly custom services to extend the product's core functionality.
  • Broad multi-vendor support
    When evaluating cloud management options, make sure that the tool you choose can orchestrate end-to-end delivery across all the technology and management components that make up your implementation. Most vendors only support components from their own offerings. Unless you're a single-vendor shop, that means you may need to discard your prior investments and be locked into that vendor's technology in the future. Multi-vendor support includes technologies used in your private cloud as well as public cloud resources.
  • Policy enabled extensibility
    How extensible is your cloud management platform by just changing configuration parameters? Can you select different provisioning workflows, collect custom data, define resource limits and service levels, or create custom approvals or reclamation workflows? These are just a few of the many customizations you should be able to make via policies. The more you can customize your cloud deployment via policies, the quicker and more cost-effectively you will be able to deploy a private cloud infrastructure that meets company's specific needs.
  • Business-aware governance
    Being able to modify the behavior of your cloud via policies is important, but just as important is the granularity of the policies that can be configured. They must be granular enough to allow different business groups to have different services that are built and constructed using different processes, resources and service levels. For example, the way you provision and manage IT resources can be quite different for dev/test vs. production vs. desktops. Business-aware governance and control is fundamental to meeting the unique needs of each business and driving broader cross-group adoption of cloud services.
  • Modify out-of-the-box automation
    Can you easily add tasks or call scripts at various states in the machine's life cycle? Is there a visual workflow editing tool and a library of predefined activities that simplify the customization process? For example: How easily can you add a self-service command to perform a specific function, access/retrieve information from a custom DB as part of the provisioning process, or execute a script to customize a machine configuration? Are you modifying the workflows that ship with the product or is this a separate run book automation or "orchestration" tool that you need to bolt onto the cloud management tool?
  • Automate additional tasks
    Can the cloud automation platform be used to automate additional tasks that go well beyond simple modifications to out-of-the-box processes? For example, one company extended the process used to provision new desktops to also automate the process of onboarding new employees. If you need this level of extensibility, one factor that should be considered is the availability of developers with this skill set. Automation tools based on de facto standards like Visual Studio and .NET will be much easier to find developers for than a vendor-specific automation tool.

Implementing and managing a private or hybrid cloud doesn't have to be so expensive. Make sure you're armed with the knowledge needed to fully evaluate your cloud vendor's offerings for potential hidden costs. Otherwise your business may find itself putting cloud projects on hold or having to justify a much-increased budget.

More Stories By Rich Bourdeau

Rich Bourdeau is VP of Marketing at DynamicOps. He has over 20 years of experience in developing, managing and marketing IT infrastructure management solutions for enterprises. Rich has spent the last four years at DynamicOps helping companies deploy and manage their private cloud infrastructures. He is a regular contributor to the DynamicOps blog and has authored papers on Must Have Cloud Management Capabilities as well as Building the Business Case for Private Cloud. Rich can be reached at [email protected] if you want to learn more about cloud management.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@CloudExpo Stories
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of (at least) three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the back-end service, and the mobile application for the end user’s controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target –...
Virgil consists of an open-source encryption library, which implements Cryptographic Message Syntax (CMS) and Elliptic Curve Integrated Encryption Scheme (ECIES) (including RSA schema), a Key Management API, and a cloud-based Key Management Service (Virgil Keys). The Virgil Keys Service consists of a public key service and a private key escrow service. 

SYS-CON Events announced today that CDS Global Cloud, an Infrastructure as a Service provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CDS Global Cloud is an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provider specializing in solutions for e-commerce, internet gaming, online education and other internet applications. With a growing number of data centers and network points around the world, ...
Big Data has been changing the world. IoT fuels the further transformation recently. How are Big Data and IoT related? In his session at @BigDataExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will explore the interplay of Big Data and IoT. He will anatomize Big Data and IoT separately in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. He will then analyze the relationship between IoT and Big Data, specifically the drilldown of how the 4Vs of Big Data (Volume, Variety,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Tintri Inc., a leading producer of VM-aware storage (VAS) for virtualization and cloud environments, will present at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Tintri VM-aware storage is the simplest for virtualized applications and cloud. Organizations including GE, Toyota, United Healthcare, NASA and 6 of the Fortune 15 have said “No to LUNs.” With Tintri they manag...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
From wearable activity trackers to fantasy e-sports, data and technology are transforming the way athletes train for the game and fans engage with their teams. In his session at @ThingsExpo, will present key data findings from leading sports organizations San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic NBA team. By utilizing data analytics these sports orgs have recognized new revenue streams, doubled its fan base and streamlined costs at its stadiums. John Paul is the CEO and Founder of VenueNext. Prior ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that eCube Systems, the leading provider of modern development tools and best practices for Continuous Integration on OpenVMS, will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. eCube Systems offers a family of middleware products and development tools that maximize return on technology investment by leveraging existing technical equity to meet evolving business needs. ...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect...
Ask someone to architect an Internet of Things (IoT) solution and you are guaranteed to see a reference to the cloud. This would lead you to believe that IoT requires the cloud to exist. However, there are many IoT use cases where the cloud is not feasible or desirable. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation, will discuss the strategies that exist to extend intelligence directly to IoT devices and sensors, freeing them from the constraints of ...
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of So...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Embotics, the cloud automation company, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Embotics is the cloud automation company for IT organizations and service providers that need to improve provisioning or enable self-service capabilities. With a relentless focus on delivering a premier user experience and unmatched customer support, Embotics is the fas...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, will discuss how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team a...
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
Effectively SMBs and government programs must address compounded regulatory compliance requirements. The most recent are Controlled Unclassified Information and the EU’s GDPR have Board Level implications. Managing sensitive data protection will likely result in acquisition criteria, demonstration requests and new requirements. Developers, as part of the pre-planning process and the associated supply chain, could benefit from updating their code libraries and design by incorporating changes.
By now most people have either created their configuration management solution or are just embarking on this journey. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Marco Ceppi, a DevOps Engineer working at Canonical, will discuss how to take configuration management to the next level with modelling and orchestration. He will also discuss how and why people are moving from a machine-centric view to a service/application-oriented view of deployments, and how you can leverage the knowledge a...
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Nick Son, Vice President of Cyber Risk & Public Sector at Coalfire, will discuss the latest information on the FedRAMP Program. Topics will cover: FedRAMP Readiness Assessment Report (RAR). This new process is designed to streamline and accelerate the FedRAMP process from the traditional timeline by initially focusing on technical capability instead of documentation preparedness. FedRAMP for High-impact level systems. Early in 2016 FedRAMP officially publishe...
What are the successful IoT innovations from emerging markets? What are the unique challenges and opportunities from these markets? How did the constraints in connectivity among others lead to groundbreaking insights? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Carmen Feliciano, a Principal at AMDG, will answer all these questions and share how you can apply IoT best practices and frameworks from the emerging markets to your own business.
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smar...
Security, data privacy, reliability, and regulatory compliance are critical factors when evaluating whether to move business applications from in-house, client-hosted environments to a cloud platform. Quality assurance plays a vital role in ensuring that the appropriate level of risk assessment, verification, and validation takes place to ensure business continuity during the migration to a new cloud platform.